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Réédition. A plus d'un titre "The Gathering" est une étape cruciale dans la carrière des Thrashers culte de la baie de San Francisco. Surtout parce que c'est un disque sur lequel du très beau monde s'est réuni pour donner une suite à la puissance phénoménale de l'album "Demonic" . Sorti en 1999, cet album restera jamais un monument dans la carrière de Chuck Billy et ses comparses.
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"The Gathering" est une pure tuerie comme elles se font assez rares. Après l'excellent "Low" paru en 1994, vrai retour au thrash qui tache, et "Demonic", sorti 3 ans plus tard, s'aventurant plus volontiers vers un Death Metal des plus efficaces, Testament revient en 1999 avec un disque proposant une sorte de mélange des 2 albums cités ci-dessus, tout en progressant et avec, en plus, une petite touche que nous appellerons la "Lombardo's Touch". Car oui, mesdames et messieurs, c'est bien Mr. Dave Lombardo en personne qui est derrière la batterie, et le moins que l'on puisse dire, c'est que ça s'entend! Les fans de Slayer et Grip Inc. apprécieront.
Le son est énorme. Je répète: ENORME. Les compos tuent. Le morceau d'ouverture "D.N.R." vous met à genoux. On a le droit à 2 furies ("Legions of the Dead" et "Fall of Sipledome") tellement implacables, maîtrisées et démentes que leur simple écoute provoque le sourire. A côté de ça, le groupe n'oublie pas de créer des ambiances, d'apporter des passages plus mélodiques. On passe du gros Heavy au Thrash ou au Death Metal d'un morceau à l'autre avec un plaisir chaque fois renouvelé. Le tout est puissant, rageur, sombre, technique (mais pas froid pour autant) et vous met une bonne grosse claque. Vous en redemanderez.Lire la suite ›
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While Testaments first 2 albums: 87's The Legacy and 88's The New Order were milestones in the thrash metal genre (with the latter being the best thrash album of all time in my opinion) the band started to slip on 89's Practice what you Preach. With the exeption of the title track, Envy Life, Sins of Omission, and Greenhouse Effect, the album was sub-par and Testament started to lose their edge. Next came 90's Souls of Black, an even weaker effort which had a "thrown together" kind of feel to it. Face in the Sky and The Legacy were the only 2 traacks in my opinion that saved that album. Then came The Ritual, the low point in their career. Mainstream influences crept in and suffocated the album (even though Return to Serenity was a very good track and a favorite of mine) This was kinda like Testament's Load/ReLoad album...if it were released by someone other than Testament, it would be much more enjoyable.
Now, exit drummer Louie Clemente and lead guitarist Alex Skolnick...enter John Tempesta and James Murphy. Low was a call to arms for the band...it up'd the ante in sheer heaviness and brute force. Low, Legions in Hiding, Hail Mary and Dog Faced Gods were ungodly tracks while Trail of Tears maintained the mainstream influence but filtered it much better through the original Testament sound. However, the last half of the album kinda just faded into the background.
Next came 97's Demonic. The band took their newfound heaviness and death metal influence to a higher level and to be completely honest...over did it. While in my opinion Demonic is all in all a pretty good album...the ok tracks outweighed the good tracks.
Now we come full circle to THE GATHERING. You take the sheer attitude of classic Testament, the heavier groove oriented power of Low, the sheer brute force and intensity of Demonic, and throw in the most well written songs of the bands career, not to mention the best production and you have one f***ing killer metal album. Eric Peterson proves that he is no doubt in the top 5 of Metal Rhythm Guitarists...the riffs on this album are just brilliant in the fact that they are not the most technical riffs that testament have written...nor are they the fastest...they just have this power to them and they fit the songs perfectly. James Murphy doesnt play a huge role on the disk (not many solos but the songs really dont call for them) but when his talents are called upon he delivers with full force. Steve DiGiorgio's bass playing is nothing short of breath taking (check out Riding the Snake) and adds yet another layer of power to the sound. Slayer alumni Dave Lombardo gives a classy yet intensity filled performance throughout the disk...giving us his best work since his glory days with Slayer. And last but not least Chuck Billy gives the performance of a lifetime. His vocals are so well rounded and his performance is so flawless you almost overlook the fact that he is one if not THE greatest metal vocalists on the planet. Heres a track by track analysis:
1 - D.N.R. (do not resuscitate)
Uptempo, grinding and powerful. Testament takes their thrash roots and beef them up with thickness, power, and from the gut vocals. Excellent modern thrash song.
2 - Down for Life
This track goes straight for the gut and doesnt stop. Just 3 and a half minutes of headbanging bliss. The arrangement has a pronounced Pantera feel to it but it is unmistakenly Testament. Incredible vocals from Chuck, not to mention some touching lyrics. Just a straight forward metal onslaught...not "thrash" metal...just pure metal.
3 - Eyes of Wrath
After a hypnotic interlude lures you into a false sense of security this track pounds you into the f***ing ground with an absolute stompin groove. The track goes in many different direction but none seem forced...this is a personal favorite for me cause the song just keeps on evolving.
4 - True Believer
This song stands out on the album because of its traces of melody and pronounced "Ritual" vibe. But if the Ritual would have sounded like this...DAMN! The chorus has a very good hook which leads into a snaking power groove that pushes and pulls the listener. Very good track that could have gotten radio play
5 - 3 Days in Darkness
An absolute monster of a song. The most infectious groove ive ever heard in a metal song. Chucks vocals are a perfect 10 here as he uses the full range of his voice. By far one of the best tracks on the album
6 - Legions of the Dead
Going back to the thrash feel of the opening track this one is unrelentless in speed and fury. The one thing thrash metal lacked wasnt speed, it was power. This track shows you that you dont have to sacrifice speed for power, but that both can coexist...great track
7 - Careful What you Wish for
This track swings. Another power groove that just makes you move. This isnt a pound your ass into the ground groove but more like a driving down the highway while uncontrollably nodding your head in unison with the bass drums.
8 - Riding the Snake
incredible interplay between EVERY instrument. This track just crushes all in its path. Chuck just belts out a steady stream of vocals that just add to the groove of the song...pure metal.
9 - Allegiance
This is the only track on the album that im not too fond of. It's really not a bad song but it just doesnt live up to the standard the other songs have already set.
10 -Sewn Shut Eyes
Undeniable intensity is what this track delivers. Non stop metal through and through...Dave Lombardo just kills on this track especially toward the end...really picks up the slack of the last track
11 -Fall of Sipledome
If you thought D.N.R and Legions of the Dead were thrash influenced...this song is just a mish-mash of blast beats, machine gun riffs and rapid fire vocals...pure thrash...you can see the whole world pitting to this track...great closer to a great album.
So there it is, 10 out of 11 tracks...modern classics. If you are a fan of metal in general...this is for you. Its all here thrash, death, black, aggro, all wrapped up in sheer intensity, attitude, and power. The best thing about it is....they aint done yet. Long Live Testament. Long Live Metal.
Plus, "The Gathering" might be the best produced Testament record. The production is crystal clear and very apparent, but it's not a case of the "everything but the kitchen sink production;" this album isn't overproduced to hide a lack of musical talent.
It's also different from most other Testament releases because "The Gathering" is quite a bit heavier (it's probably their heaviest album.) It's still plenty fast, but some death metal influence is also incorporated into their patented thrash.
Album opener, "D.N.R." begins with a few acoustic strums, but they are quickly eliminated when the pounding electric guitars storm onto the scene. Next, "Down For Life" has fast and heavy churning riffs. Track five, "3 Days in Darkness," has fiery chug and churn riffs and great, machine gun drumming. Elsewhere, "Legions of the Dead" has more blistering, almost careening guitar work, and "Riding the Snake" has explosive guitar riffs, propulsive drumming, and great bass lines by Steve. But this album doesn't get by on just volume, because most of the songs--especially "Eyes of Wrath" and "Careful What You Wish For"--are very catchy. And some songs (i.e. tracks six and eleven) sound downright awesome, with a great give and take between the propulsive guitars and rapid, double bass drumming.
So, what we have here is another great Testament disc. It might be their best yet, and it's a modern classic, if you ask me. This album always makes for a great listen, and it's especially refreshing with all of the wannabe thrash bands out there today. The bottom line is this is a must own for all thrash and death metal fans. And if you like thundering rhythms, great riffs and drumming, and all-around kick ass metal, you will love "The Gathering." I know I do!
Chuck Billy has toned down the death in his singing but at the same time he hasn't lost any of his ferocity or growling ability. It's the new and improved Testament. While a lot of people might not even consider his singing to be death metal, I consider his performance on this album to be as close to perfection as any death metal (or related genre) could hope to be. The same band you love but twice the melody.
Dave Lombardo really helped with the drumming on this album (although Gene Hoglan could've stayed on and handled his duties equally well. SYL is probably better for him anyway). Lombardo adds a touch of added respect to a band that deserves it, but up until recently has not received it.
Now that I have mentioned the incredible drumming found on this cd, I must mention the work of one of the most underated guitarists in metal. Eric Peterson complements Dave Lombardo perfectly and vice versa. The guitar work is worth the price of the cd alone. I am a big fan of good guitar work but so are (I assume) most metal fans. Eric continues to pound out thrash that remains new and fresh yet original, heavy, and absolutely addictive.
The long and short of it is that this CD is amazing. Whether you are driving, walking, running, talking, yelling, drinking, eating...this is the cd that suits all accasions. In other words, the perfect thrash cd.
As you may know, there is quite the all-star lineup here. James Murphy (formerly of Obituary and Konkhra) puts on what is likely his greatest performance yet. Eric Peterson contributes leads this time. On the other album I have, he only does rhythm, so I don't know how long he's been doing leads. But anyway, that only makes it better, creating Slayer-esque guitar interplay. Sadly, there aren't as many solos as Slayer, but maybe that's good. They managed to make a technical album that's not too indulgent. Two great changes have been made to the lineup. After years of average drum/bass, they have added bass god Steve DiGiorgio (now in Iced Earth), and the great and powerful Dave Lombardo on drums, making for a killer rhythm section. Dave almost outdoes his work in Slayer, and Steve refuses to fade into the background (even though he does a lot of the time). And, fronting all this madness is the mighty Chuck Billy, one of the greatest metal vocalists on the planet. He puts on his greatest and most aggressive performance to date, mixing his normal Hetfield-on-steroids vocal style with the occasional death growl. He's not the greatest death growler, but he does an okay job, and he doesn't overdo it here (like on "Deomonic"). He doesn't really do any singing here, but oh well. It wouldn't really fit the album anyway.
This album is a dizzying metal onslaught that's great from start to finish. If I had to pick favorites, I'd probably say "Down for Life", "3 Days in Darkness", and "Riding the Snake", but I'd probably be lying, because they're all great. The weird thing is that on the label on the disc, it lists a 12th song (part of it's chopped off, but it looks like it says "Hammer of the Gods"), but there's no such song on the album. What's that about?
If you love metal, this album is a must-have. If you always hoped someone would someday recreate "Reign in Blood", run out and get this, because it's probably the closest anyone will ever come. Metallica and Slayer may be finished, but Testament reigns supreme. I think Chuck has some kind of illness, but let's all hope he pulls through, and continues to make some great music. They may never make a better album than this one, but let's hope it isn't their last.